(1866-08-23) Patience
Summary: Jonathan catches up with Lorelei after his victory at the wedding tourney. Awkward words are exchanged.
Date: 1866-08-23
Related: Alina and Gabriel's wedding masque and tourney.
Jonathan  Lorelei  

Black Fox Company Training Grounds
Included in scene set.
23 Aout 1866

Tourneys are fine. They're part of living in this area of the Edge, and part of the line of work Lorelei's found herself in. In the past, though, she may have known of the combattants from word of mouth of a conversation. She may have memorized house colors and sigils, learned who was representing which parts of Lonnaire and, to a greater extent, the Kingdom of Couviere. In her earlier years, she could almost instantly identify a Rivanian knight or company — and just as easily could she hide from them.

To be so aware of the tournament this year, no matter how 'small' it was to all those puffed up nobles in attendance, was totally new for her. To know…well. That's a whole different matter, isn't it?

After the pub where she spent little to no time actually drinking, Lorelei left her Captain behind and rode high on a wave of adrenaline and curiosity on her solo, silent walk back home to the Black Fox Training Grounds. Distracted, she's arrived before she even realizes she has and, without any concrete plans for what to do, begins to wander back to her comfortable spot on the barrel where she whittles on occasion. With her 'free time.' Right.

There was a time when Jonathan t'Maren was a particularly avid tourney competitor. Indeed, that's what put him in Pacitta a year ago, and that's when his life, well, took a bit of a turn. Suffice to say he's been off the circuit for some time, and the festivities surrounding the wedding of Alina and Gabriel, even if they weren't a Circuit event, were a good way for him to get back into the swing of things, as it were.

Given the quality of his performance, it's evident that he hasn't lost a step.

That being said, even as he battled with some of the greatest knights in the Edge, and /certainly/ once the melee concluded, Jonathan found his mind wandering to an uncomfortable degree. His eyes drifted over the stands, and there's a woman with whom he locked eyes for a particularly long moment. A commoner, one who a month ago would have been entirely beneath his notice, but it seems circumstances have worked in mysterious ways.

And so, though he wouldn't outright /say/ that he is looking for her, it's clear that that is Jonathan's intention as he slips away from the nobles in their revelry and wanders toward the training grounds of the Black Fox Company. He knows where he'll find that comfortable spot, and when he sees who's waiting there, he dips his head in a little nod of greeting, lips turning up in a subdued smile.

He may smile, but even after this weekend's events, Lorelei's gut reaction is to remain neutral, and so she does. She hears him approach, heart jumping into her throat as the sound of a familiar gait reaches her ears. She hasn't been waiting there all that long, but her knife is still in her hand and she's managed to get a rather sizeable chunk of the stick in her hand carved out. Can't say she's not industrious.

He hasn't spoken, though, which she definitely appreciates. Making eye contact, Lorelei straightens her back from her seat on the barrel, taking her booted feet off the makeshift ottoman of the barrel in front of her and moving them onto the ground. Surely he'll notice she's still got that leather cord around her neck. It's dark leather jewelry on a deathly-pale neck that is, otherwise, always devoid of adornment.

That's not unexpected, all things considered. Jon at least outwardly maintains his composure as he sees her, though she might notice that there's just a touch more color in his face now, as though he were flushed from exertion. Choosing to communicate without words for the moment, he motions for her to keep her seat, and he settles himself onto a nearby crate, just tall enough to support him comfortably.

Of course he notices that leather cord around her neck - indeed, it seems as though he can't take his eyes off it. Lips press together as he regards her with care, and then his gaze flickers up to meet her eyes directly. Finally, she'll hear his voice. "Evening, Lorelei."

"Jon." The archer doesn't break eye contact, dark lashes fluttering over darker eyes as she fights to keep her eyes open. It's another way she's much like a cat; this staring contest won't be lost by her. He'll likely notice the hand on her knife tightening its grip, her shoulders tense, as is their wont. She's not done anything more with her hair since he saw her at the tourney, and it hangs loose around her shoulders in something resembling a dark, frizzy halo. It's somewhat endearing, to be honest.

Her breathing, rythmic and deep, is all he can hear from her now, save for boots scratching on the dirt as she moves her feet. She's getting comfortable, really, not trying to stand. She appreciates the gesture, though. Swallowing, she reaches up with the hand gripping the knife to tuck a lock of hair behind her ear before nodding to him. "Well fought," she praises quietly.

Jon isn't particularly of a mind to lose the staring contest either, it seems. He meets her gaze dead-on for a few long moments, and in the periphery, he sees the tension in her form. It's not surprising in the slightest, but perhaps a little off-putting for him, or at the very least, enough to subdue his reaction a little. "Thank you," he replies, that smile growing a touch bigger. "It was good to take the field again, even if I remain a little sore." Shaking out his left hand briefly, he adds, "I am glad you enjoyed the show."

A few moments longer, and then he allows her to win, stretching back and letting his eyelids flutter closed for a moment. His shoulders relax, and when his gaze returns to her, it's not fixed on her eyes, but flickering up and down over her form. Her hair /is/ endearing, especially now that she's getting a little more comfortable. "I very much enjoyed our hunt, you know." He's talking about the one in the woods, right? Maybe not…

Part of her knew when she whispered for him to follow her that he'd want to talk about it. Even before she allowed, nay, encouraged him to overtake her in the presence of all his peers, part of her knew this encounter would happen. Even if her firsthand experience of chivalry leaves much to be desired, Lorelei is aware that Jon has his own code of honor and operates on it flawlessly.

When he can. Clearly exceptions are made for Bears interested in making love to Wolves.

"That venison was tender," she offers, venturing a tease with a matching subdued smirk. Her eyes, though, betray that she knows exactly what he's talking about. Even if she says nothing about it directly. Well, nonverbal, anyway. She is wearing a bear claw pendant.

"Indeed. Once we reached our quarry, and looked beneath the surface…" Jon's smirk widens rather substantially, and the tease, as subtle as it is, ignites a storm of passion is his eyes. When he looks back at her, it's like he's gazing right through her, or at least through her veneer of noncommital calm. He's searching her, seeking something, though precisely /what/ isn't entirely clear.

"And I see that you are still carrying your trophy." That's directed right at the pendant hanging around her neck, of course. "Regrettably, I seem not to have one of my own." Shoulders roll in a shrug as he looks back at her. "But the memory alone, I think, is so well burned into my mind that it may as well be a painting. One to be admired."

His enthusiasm is a little daunting, given how she really said only three words to him. When did this knight become one to like the silent type? She can see his eyes, and as she regards him with that calm exterior still in place, her eyes change slightly to add another layer: not you, not yet. The sister may have free reign to understand as much as can be understood about the archer, but that relationship is entirely different.

And so she sits, guarded by her bear claw trophy and an impenetrable wall around her persona that isn't going anywhere. The words that tumble out of her mouth next, far sooner than she's had enough time to think about them, shock even her. "Just a party," she proclaims, tense shoulders shrugging and eyes darting downward briefly before back up to him.

Perhaps the addition of that layer is enough to give Jon pause, but he doesn't seem especially discouraged. When he meets her eyes, there's the slightest of nods, a silent way of saying, I understand. The limit is set, and even if it's strange that she's more willing, perhaps, to open physically than emotionally at the moment, he doesn't push it.

Nodding his response to her words, he replies, "Indeed. And what happens at the Masque does not go beyond the Masque." It's his first direct reference to it, said fairly nonchalantly. "Curious, is it not, how one's actions change when one is insulated from repercussions?" His eyes follow hers down, then meet them again.

But see, it's not strange at all for her. Certainly there were parts of their own private Masque that differed from previous encounters - the costumes chief among them - but the ability to use her body how she needs it to be used while leaving other parts of her (the parts she'd argue make her 'her' to begin with) locked away is totally acceptable and, actually, rather predictable. A tool and nothing more.

No, not curious. She shakes her head, hands meeting in her lap as she sighs. Her shoulders relax a little and she sniffs. "You want what I have." So it follows it's no surprise that the nobility, when offered the opportunity to be totally anonymous, would bank on it in as uninhibited a way as possible. Who likes expectations? The more there are, the more stifled a life is.

Perhaps it is not so strange after all. Jonathan himself, to be sure, is no stranger to making a clear distinction between his body and his persona - not quite in /that/ manner, granted, but in his own way. He works his body to the cusp of physical perfection because that is his duty as a knight and heir to Bloodfield. Whether it reflects on who /Jon/ is, is irrelevant.

He's pleased to see her shoulders relax, and he leans back a little bit as he meets her eyes. "I do." That's said without pretense, without hesitation. "And Lore," he says, the shortened name rolling off his tongue with surprisingly little trouble. "What do /you/ want?"

My, isn't that a scary question? It seems the quartermaster is amenable to ignoring the use of the nickname only her Captain has, to date, been allowed to use, given how much thought answering the question is requiring. Her eyes leave his for a time, losing focus as she looks in the direction of the barrel she'd had her feet on before. When she looks up, her features are turned into a shadow of something she hardly ever shows: worry.

Onyx eyes focus again, and they move, like his, up and down him in observation. It's not necessarily a lascivious appraisal of him, though that would be completely warranted given what condition he's in physically (bruises and all). It's more to guage his mood and his comfort level which, remarkably, seems to be the most relaxed she's ever seen him. "So much change," she observes, reservedly. "I want it slower." 'It' here could mean anything, and the way she says it makes it sound a little more all-encompassing than just the after-effects of the Masque.

Indeed, Jonathan is relaxed, and her question doesn't seem to faze him at all. The worry on her features is noted, of course, and he meets her eyes with a little bit of gentleness in his gaze. The passion is still there, but he's holding it in check - quite deliberately, one might surmise. It's a dance of sorts, and as he would in battle, he adjusts to his partner's movements, using aggression when it is warranted and caution when it is needed.

"Change can be a positive thing," he muses, letting his eyes drift away from hers. "But intimidating. Difficult to adjust." His gaze falls on her again, and his head dips in a little nod, again a silent /I understand/. A few moments' pause, and then he shifts over a bit on the crate, creating just enough room for the quartermaster to fit beside him. The tips of his fingers just brush over the surface as he wordlessly invites her to sit.

…Not yet. Eyes dart from his face to where his hand is moving, tapping the crate, and they linger there for a few moments longer than would generally indicate a positive response. Frowning slightly, she rises, shaking her head and instead choosing a nearby pole to lean her shoulder against. She's maybe a foot or two closer to him - that's an improvement, no? - but obviously not moving. Anchoring her position, she takes one booted foot and, kicking it out in front of her, swings it across the opposite one. Thunk.

The knife is spun and shunted forcefully back into its holster on her belt like it's nothing. Apparently this is normal. Much like his sister, then, she reaches up and rakes a single hand through her voluminous, crinkly, ebon locks. Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, after all. "A hassle," she declares, voice soft but firm. There's silence that follows, stretching between them for maybe a full minute in reality but feeling far longer. She looks up from the patch of dirt by his feet her eyes had been gazing at, unfocused, to lock eyes with him. I still don't know you, they explain.

Fine, fine. Jonathan is perhaps briefly disappointed by her refusal, but the limit is set, and he doesn't intend to push it. Not yet, anyway. His eyes follow her as she relocates, and there's the briefest of nods. At least she's a little closer. Progress. Stretching a bit, he settles down onto the crate, again leaving that space open for her should she choose to take it.

Jon's deep eyes follow the spinning knife with interest - he's not frightened, to be sure, but it shows that she is both serious and precise, a potent combination. "Mmm. But what reward is there without enduring some hassle first? His eyes stay on her for the entirety of that lengthy stretch, and when she meets his eyes, he nods. Again, there's a tilt of the head toward the vacant spot on the crate. His reply is clear. Then come and find out.

Mmmmmphh. That's not the only way to get to know someone, and the pointed glare she gives him now propels them back in time by at least a week. Strange, isn't it, how quickly things change? But then, he'd only come from Bloodfield at the end of Juillet, and would be returning soon, surely. He had no guarantee he'd ever see her again, so perhaps his insistence does make some degree of sense…

Oh, but then her gears start turning and her head shakes from side to side, no, the thoughts all processing there at once. "You're a knight," she astutely points out, though her tone doesn't suffer in confidence. It was just an encounter at a Masque, for crying out loud, and surely knights have had trysts with women lower in society than she. So, there's something to be proud of: she still knows who she is, even if he is still a mystery. Her shoulders roll back slightly as she readjusts her posture.


No, perhaps not. And indeed, now that the wedding is over, he has little reason to stay in Lonnaire for much longer, though whether he's going back to Bloodfield or on to Pacitta or elsewhere remains to be seen. So, yes, perhaps there is a little urgency in his demeanor, given the circumstances…

Isn't Lorelei the queen of stating the obvious, though. "Yes," he replies, flatly. "As I was raised to be, as I was set to be all of my life. Little choice, for one in my position." Other than, admittedly, the choice of lowborn women with whom to have passing trysts, but even /that/ is not entirely open. Women have agency in such matters, after all, and despite what Lore may think, Jon is not the sort to force the issue. "And you are a quartermaster. How did that come to pass?" He might still be barking up the wrong tree, but at least it's a question.

"Sid," she replies, a genuine smile pulling the corners of her lips upwards and brightening her eyes. "That's how." I mean, sure, there were other steps in the process. But all that needs to be known is that his sister did her a major favor, vouched for her, and supported her when she likely wouldn't have been able to achieve this goal on her own. Perhaps a bit of the archer's demeanor is uncovered in this answer which, it's presumed, is the knight's whole point in asking.

"You've lands to govern." Baronies are totally important, especially when you have the clothes on your back, maybe an extra pair of pants (praise the One) and some weapons back in your room to call your own in this world. Lorelei seems detatched, in a way, even though she's really offering up a piece of her that she's yet to actually show him.

It's all said to gauge the reaction. When are you leaving? She'd allowed her eyes to grow unfocused as he addressed her to better hear his words, hands coming to rest on their opposite elbows as her arms fold across her chest.

"Ah." Jonathan had guessed as much, really, given the closeness between the archer and his sister, but still, the confirmation is useful - and the way she brightens at the mention of her Captain is worthwhile in itself. "She is a remarkable woman, is she not?" He'd know that well, of course - she was his sister long before she was anything to Lorelei, even if in recent years they've grown a little more distant.

Shoulders roll in a shrug. "My /father/ has lands to govern," he replies, nonchalantly. "And my mother does so when he is away. I, praise the One, do not yet need to shoulder that responsibility." Though the time is growing nearer. After all, Louis t'Maren is getting up there in years, and Jon is the heir… and is unwed… That gets his mind to wander for a moment, but fortunately, Lorelei is there to reclaim his attention in short order.

A nod. "I will likely go on to Pacitta within the next fortnight, the better to be rested in time for the festivities." He does his best to hide it, but as perceptive as Lorelei is, she'll surely notice the hint of dread that just creeps into his voice.

Surely he's not dreading leaving? That can't be it.

Hmm? She cants her head to the left, mop of frizzy, dark hair waving like a pendulum behind her as she watched him, curious about his reaction. But, considering from whom the question about his behavior is coming, it's unlikely he'll be coerced into explaining himself.

She's not stupid. She knows what happens to lordlings when the elders die off and said lordlings become full-fledged lords. He'll need little lordlings of his own, of course, and she is in no position to be the second half of that required equation… Remarkable where the mind can wander, with such familiarity, after not wandering to such a place for what seems like forever? Such is the look on her face now: focused on him, somewhat disdainful and nostalgic all at once.

Yes, yes. Someday, likely soon, Jonathan will have to marry, and produce /legitimate/ offspring to carry on his father's line. Not that that rules out entirely the possibility of having others on the side, but it makes things frustratingly complex, to say nothing of the stain on one's honor that comes with being less than faithful. Of course, Louis t'Maren himself is not in a position to judge…

But that's not where Jonathan's mind is wandering now. It's back, not forward, back about a year to the last Circuit event in which he participated. A long pause as he meets Lorelei's eyes, and he takes note of his curiosity. Eyes close for a moment, and then he lets out a little sigh.

"I was in Pacitta a year ago," he offers by way of explanation. That should be enough for Lorelei to fill in at least some of the blanks. "Suffice to say that I am not entirely looking forward to returning."

If the explanation isn't offered, it's not pressed for… though she knows enough of current events to attempt to put two and two together. Pushing off the column she'd been leaning on, arms still crossed, she seeks his eyes again with her own. The archer worries her bottom lip a bit as she stands in silence again for a time, until she unfolds her arms, pockets one hand, and reaches for the claw with the other.

It's all so new, really. Half of her is screaming that she's forgetting something, and the other half is insisting she's doing it right. Her gut flip flops from one side to the other on such matters whenever she begins thinking of them, so she's done her best to banish these thoughts for much of the past…oh. Day.

Thinking of how little time has actually passed makes her laugh, her smile a bit dark, considering. "Safer now," she comforts, kicking at the dirt with one foot. "You'll win there too, I imagine."

Stop the presses! Did she just compliment him?!

When she doesn't press, there's a look of /relief/ in Jonathan's eyes, subdued but unmistakably there. He gives a little nod, a silent 'thank you.' The day may come when he's prepared to have that conversation with her, but that day is not today. She knows at least as much as she needs to know.

His eyes follow her hand to the bear claw, and a little, knowing smile curls his lips, a smile that gets rather bigger when he hears her laugh - even given how dark her expression is. "True," he adds. "And I appreciate your confidence." It's an understated reply, but the broad grin that cuts across his face, even for a moment, belies just how much that means to him. Even if winning at Pacitta isn't his primary present concern.

"You know," he says, tentatively. "I understand that the Black Fox Company has /some/ operations in Pacitta. Even if only a token presence…" His voice trails off, but his meaning is absolutely clear.

And so what, she'd begin to follow him around as his chosen concubine? Not that he has more than one, naturally; she assumes that, given how honorable and, erm, awkward he can be that he's not exactly a magnet for women. Thus, her first, gut reaction is anger, then annoyance, and then she shuts her eyes, inhales through her nose, and sighs loudly.

She's trying, the One help her. She's trying.

"Quartermaster, remember?" she offers, her hand leaving the bear claw to turn, palm upm and motion toward the building complex behind her. "That'd be Sid's job, maybe." Maybe, of course, because the higher ups might even deem her more necessary here. It's not meant as a complete rebuke. Rather, it's totally logical in her mind that, especially because he understands her job, he'd understand that she can't just up and leave to follow him with a red and black banner to cheer for him in the stands. Her words came quickly, though, and a slight look of regret fills her onyx eyes as she regards him now, waiting for him to deflate and clearly feeling bad about it.

At least she's trying.

Naturally, he's frustrated by her response, but far be it from a t'Maren to ask someone else to shirk their duty. "Yes, of course. You have a job to do, and it is not my place to ask you to leave it behind." It's worth noting that he never quite got to the point of asking - a symbolic point, perhaps, but one that matters in his mind at the least. He sees the regret in her eyes, of course, and there's a little change in his expression. He's still smiling, despite himself, but it's a soft and almost somber thing.

"Well," he says, rolling his shoulders. "I have a fortnight in Lonnaire still - unlike my sister, I have no compunction against traveling by faegate." Hopefully he won't pop out with his eyes suddenly being different colors. "And I do try to make the most of the time I have, where I am."

Right. Is it just truth? Or confirmation that she is just the tool she's been telling herself she would be from the beginning? OR, there's a third option where she's overthinking, but far be it from Lorelei Asheflour to actually come to this conclusion. She's an archer, after all, and all her actions require much thought so as to be as precise as possible. Can't get the stag when you're tromping through the underbrush all willy nilly.

Her eyes are expressive, and so she turns them to the ground for this next process of thought, unwilling to betray her entire hand to the knight before her just yet. "You'll train, though," she asserts, back still poker-stiff as she looks up again, somewhat more composed. You'll have other things to do.

To his credit, perhaps, Jonathan t'Maren is nothing if not patient tonight. He permits her to spend her time in thought, remaining silent, not prodding her to speak before she is ready.

His reply is likewise deeply considered, and spoken with a degree of precision. "Yes. But if that were all I wished to do, I could easily go on to Pacitta now. Training can be done anywhere." Pause. His eyes rest quite markedly on the bear claw that yet remains in her possession. Then he takes a deep breath, and meets her gaze head-on.

"But I think I have found a reason to stay here as long as I am able."

Cheeks burn and her temper flares. First she turns and takes a few brisk steps away, but ultimately Lorelei thinks better of it and, pinching the bridge of her nose before turning back around and returning to the knight's company, closer than before, head bowed so as to not betray a lack of direction, this time, but rather a look of disgust. She can't help it, clearly; the whole of her frame, thin and wiry as it already is, is so tightly string right now it looks as though pulling her anywhere else will snap her.

"Forgive me," she offers, eyes finally moving from the ground to meet the dark ones opposite. "It's…difficult." Again, that's all the explanation offered, voice trailing off before the appended adjective. Huffing, she continues to regard him, almost daring him to read her now. Let it be known that the claw has gone untouched throughout this last 'episode,' for good or ill.

When she turns and moves to walk away, Jonathan puts his hands on his knees as though to stand, but he seems to think better of it. Dark eyes follow her as she turns away, then back, and he's at least outwardly nonchalant as she approaches. Perhaps some of the nuance of her actions is lost on him, but he sees the tension in her form, and that's enough to prompt him to proceed with caution.

When he speaks, after a rather lengthy pause, his voice is soft and calm. "I ought to ask /your/ forgiveness, Lorelei," he says, choosing each word with care. "My intent is not to cause you hardship." That's true, so far as it goes. But tension? Perhaps he doesn't mind causing tension, not when it can lead in so many directions.

And so his gaze meets hers dead-on, and while he may be struggling to read her now, he's also struggling to hide the passion that's been so well suppressed throughout most of their conversation. It's there, a growing flame behind his dark eyes.

Lorelei's no fool. She knows it's there. His request for her forgiveness is actually refreshing and relieving, but it doesn't buy him a one-way ticket to cloud nine just yet.

She nods in understanding, clearly more comfortable now than a moment ago, but she still doesn't make to sit. "Tomorrow?" she asks, face still screwed up a little in conflict as she regards the man before her, knowing precisely what she's asking him to give up. It doesn't seem to faze her overmuch, considering she doesn't blink once during her terse request.

Patience. Patience is one of Jonathan t'Maren's few virtues. It's being tested now.

His own comfort level may not be especially high right now, but it does the knight a little bit of good to see the archer relax. His head dips in a short nod. "Tomorrow," he agrees, and his lips press together in a smile - he's far from overjoyed, but at least something has been committed. This is good. This is workable.

And so, finally, he presses his hands against the crate and gets back to his feet. "Perhaps, then, I ought to leave you to your business for the rest of the night."

A slight shrug is offered in reply, though she does take a step back in the direction she was fleeing just a few moments before. There's hesitation, and frustration, and clearly a whole lot of things stewing within her, but Lorelei betrays none of them. It's not the time or the place.

Taking one more step away, but still facing him, she clearly struggles with deciding to extend her hand to him. Ultimately she does, a slow, deliberate motion that, for now, will be as far as she's willing to go to bridge their gap. Strange how much of a difference costumes make, no?

Perhaps it's not so strange. Regardless, it's more than Jonathan might have expected, and yet he's not displeased by the gesture. He takes one slow, almost tentative step toward her, then another, closing most of the distance between them. Close enough that she'll easily hear his breathing and the hurried beating of his heart.

Without another moment's hesitation, he drops to one knee and takes her hand in his own. If she doesn't pull away, he'll press a soft kiss into her skin, dark eyes gazing up into hers from start to finish.

"Good evening, Lorelei Asheflour."

It's a jolt she wasn't expecting, that kiss to the back of her hand. Gazing back down at him, eyes just as intense, she allows all of it to happen while watching very, very closely. What one does when given an opportunity for kinship is telling, and, given the near-shock on Lorelei's face, it seems Jon has passed his test.

Hmm. Taking her hand back, cool and tingling, she replies in kind. "Good evening," comes her whisper, just moments before she turns and disappears without looking back into the dark.

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